Ride for Veterans

Cycling and anything that keeps the wheels turning. Marine veteran remembering the time I served as well as looking to help others.

Getting some tail, and using my fingers.

Catching the tail wind on a brief ride tonight.

There’s nothing better than riding in the same direction as the wind. Doesn’t happen too often here in Orlando either due to luck, or the great stints of weather I end up riding in. When it does though I fully appreciate the added boost. The soundtrack to tonight’s ride brought to you by DJ Swan. Good buddy of mine and always has a great mix to pedal to. You can check out some of his tracks here.

It wasn’t a very long ride tonight, I wanted to do it more for speed and intensity to check on something my body has been doing. Too many migraines this week to ignore. I’m thinking there is a connection with my blood pressure. That or I have just been around too many other people that have been pissing me off. Both are plausible.

What the hell is the matter with people?

The-Big-Lebowski-WTF-GifThe end of July has always been a fuzzy time for me in the past. This year it’s just been filled with an abundance of inner issues. Combine that with the mini interactions I have with people, you know the ones that make one want to run head first into a brick wall.

A quick example of one of those mini interactions occurred tonight. I like to call these type of people too stupid to let their brain catch up to their own dumb. I’ll try to put that in plain English or something that makes sense. Ever watch someone do something you know is going to be wrong and at the same time you can see it on their face that they know it as well? Well in these instances these people are being stupid at such great speeds that it’s damn near impossible for them to stop the current actions.

This type of driver deserves a brick through the window.

 

Not too sure why drivers pull this maneuver, but they do constantly. Speeding past a cyclist only to slam on their brakes and cut in front of them to make a right turn. I’m thankful that I have quick enough reflexes to stop myself from slamming into the side of vehicles that do this. Wouldn’t it be much easier to wait 0.5 seconds for the cyclist to pass the road you wish to turn down?

The special person that cut me off tonight received a double dose of my erect fingers. Letting them know just how appreciative I was of their driving skills.

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Now how many of you perverts read the title of this post and assumed I was talking about a girl? For shame!

I’ve been told that water keeps you alive.

Riding around Orlando.

While out exploring the Orlando area I learned a few lessons. Mostly where NOT to ride again, that cobblestone is annoying and that there needs to be more water fountains. Granted I should have used my brain and brought some spare water with me. I only encountered the, “You came to the wrong neighborhood M-er F-er” feeling a few times.

The ride itself was pretty enjoyable for the first half. Every time I came upon a road I’ve never traveled down I choose to see where it went. In doing so I ran the risk of getting lost. Which I did, several times. As you can see in the map I had made loops around two different airports before realizing I was lost.

I hated running out of water. I had cotton mouth and was growing irritated that Orlando, which is pretty pedestrian heavy has so few places for public water. Like I said though I should have packed more water for the ride so I can’t just hate the city over it.

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Once I did find a water resupply point I filled up and drank from it like I had been stuck in the damn desert for a month. The only way to describe the feeling is to compare it to old Nintendo games when your guy was down to 2 or 3 life lines and you were sure you were going to be game over. Water at least got me back to half life and I continued on my ride.

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After the ride.

I kept craving burger king during the ride. Just to keep with the healthy habits I went with subway instead. Jared would be proud! I wonder if he’s into cycling. He doesn’t come across as one. Jerk. I also poured a cookies and creme protein shake down my throat fast enough to feel sick from it afterwards. Took about half an hour before I could feel normal again.

Just for fun my body decided to have an outstanding cramp. My left hamstring locked up and hurt like hell. I thought the muscle was going to snap and leave me auditioning for a part in the life alert commercials. I’m happy to tell you that I survived it and there were pretzels and beer waiting to reward my struggle.

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What could happen on a dark night in Florida.

Riding 100 miles on a bike isn’t exactly an easy task.

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Even for individuals that commute and ride all the time. Therefore when I choose to do a century I bring with me stuff to think about. Often times I end up coming up with thoughts I didn’t know were there or wasn’t acknowledging.

Beginning the ride was nice and smooth.

I left around 2:00am and headed for the West Orange trails. This way I could ride the majority of it out of the friendly Florida sun. The way to the trail was pretty well lit up, but not when I entered it! Aside from the light on the front of my bike I rode in complete darkness. Seeing small patches of light from nearby houses through the trees. I’ve ridden down the trail several times, but remembering every curve is something I haven’t mastered yet. That being said the ride became exciting quickly! I loved every bit of it, speeding up with my tunes cranking I was free from everything. No one knew where I was nor where I was going. Other than pulling over and taking my phone out of airplane mode to submit a picture no one had the ability to contact me. If you haven’t just unplugged from the world in a while I highly recommend it. People sometimes forget to think about themselves when the world is stuck between their thumbs. Not saying to be selfish, but if you don’t take the time to listen to yourself every once in a while you’ll end up becoming the world’s pet. I put myself in danger out on this ride and at the same time had the greatest sense of freedom.
Further down the trail I went by a few houses. Passing a group of guys that looked like they could be the dudes Will Smith described that were up to no good. I decided I wouldn’t make any trouble in their neighborhood and kept on pedaling. The trail seemed to lose some more light as I entered the next town. The danger of it started to consume me as I stood up to go faster while the fear that I could lose control increased.
The next area I came across had a well lit pedestrian bridge so I took advantage of it and snapped a picture, well a selfie. Not really sure why I needed that picture, but I hadn’t taken one yet so it seemed appropriate.  20140701-082237-30157753.jpgWhen I reached the other side of the road I passed underneath the bridged and came across a homeless man in a wheelchair. He had bags tied to the side that looked like clothes and the rest of his possessions. The night was all about unexpected adventures so I stopped to talk with him. He was semi hiding behind one of the columns and appeared shocked that I pulled over by him. He asked about my bike ride and then offered to buy me a coffee at the Dunkin Donuts across the road. I declined and thanked him for the offer. I didn’t realize it until he pointed it out but I kept looking behind me. There wasn’t a reason really, but he left me with some wise words. “No point in looking behind you, the past looks the same as the first time you went by it.” I never asked that man for his name. Didn’t ask him to explain why he was under a bridge. Appreciate the talk.
After the bridge encounter I began looking inward at my own thoughts. The trail once again went black with my light leading the path. Right into a damn cobweb. Yeah a face full of it and it crossed my lips and I flailed my arms like a little girl. Immediately thought there was a spider somewhere on my body and it’s only goal in life now was to find my skin and attack it. Thankfully this didn’t happen.

I was lost.

Literally as well as in my own mind. I found my way to an unmarked dead end road, then laughed at myself when I reached it. Something I was used to doing in my life. Not realizing I was on a path to a dead end yet still heading straight for it ignoring anything that would hint at it. No use in being pissed over it so I turned around and retraced my route. Time to find a new road. 

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I came upon a sign depicting a bike route with an arrow. I choose to ignore the suggestion, took a picture of it and continued in my own direction. I’ve spent enough of my life traveling by the direction of others, I was done. I’ll be the one at the end of this trip of life, I get to decide how to end up there.
One of the benefits of riding at night, like I always do, is it’s safer. Sounds ridiculous right? During the day people are filled with distractions in their cars either texting or talking with other passengers while having full view of everything around them. At night people are more cautious and are more likely to see my blinking lights in front of them on a dark road. What isn’t safe are rouge raccoons that think it’s hilarious to dart out in front of me then stare into my bike light. This little F——r was in my direct path and looked as if it was ready to attack my soul. At the last second he bounced back into the woods leaving me wide eyed. Later on I would realize a raccoon was the least of my worries.

I somehow made it into Mount Dora.

 

I already had traveled to the left of it. This time I made a right. No idea where I was heading and I refused to pull out my phone to look at a map. A sign up ahead gave me two options. Never been to Sanford before. 22 miles wasn’t that bad considering I was about half way into the ride. 22 miles on a quiet road, in the dark, with signs warning of bear crossings is a long road to travel. Suddenly the raccoon wasn’t looking so bad huh?20140701-082144-30104089.jpg
I could tell I was almost to Sanford by the gas stations I was coming up to. Had to take a break and fix a flat tire. Sort of essential to the whole riding a bike thing. Took advantage of the stop by stretching out and loading up on peppered beef jerky. Much needed protein for my legs later on and spicy to keep me sipping water. Flat tires can teach you a lot about yourself. How you handle unexpected situations. I call them a pause button. Obviously I was meant to stop for something, up to me to find out why. This time it was just for beef jerky. :)20140701-082125-30085235.jpg

Around mile 70 or so I read a sign for Winter Springs and Oveido.

I know from looking at maps before that those are two names I didn’t want to be anywhere near while being in the 70 mile range. I was too far out. This time I did pull out my phone to figure out which direction to pedal in at least. Headed towards Maitland.
Along the way the tire I popped started losing air pressure. The side pump I had with me wasn’t living up to it’s hype and I had no other option than to stop every 5-10 miles to pump more into it. Then my back tire decided to be cute and pickup a nail. The sun was up now and I wasn’t grateful for this flat. Once again I pulled over, changed the tube out and filled it with as much air as I could get into it. To give you an idea of what I mean my tires are supposed to have 120 PSI. After checking later I figured out I rode on two of them at about 60-70 PSI. Making it difficult to pedal, but hey I was looking for a challenge right?
I knew of a couple bike shops in the approaching area that could possibly have an external air hookup outside their stores I could utilize. Damn memory lied to me. It was still hours before these shops would open up so I pedaled on. I looked for other options as the temperature went up. I anticipated seeing another cyclist especially in the Winter Park area. Someone had to have a more efficient pump with them. Nope. My only option was to continue in the direction I was heading.20140701-082109-30069682.jpg

At mile 95 I looked down at my garmin and realized I had a very clear shot at making one of my goals for this ride.

100 miles In under 6 hours! But first let’s go ahead and stick a piece of glass through my back tire. Yeah, third flat on this trip and it happened at mile 95. In the sun, with my legs begging me to just call it a day and accept defeat from the unforgiving road pricks. 20140701-081941-29981010.jpgI popped off the back tire, looked at it and started laughing at the situation. What other option did I have? Throw a tantrum about it? I changed the tire and knew that the road ahead of me was mostly uphill. Of course it was. I was running out of time and energy, had to force myself back on the bike.
I overestimated how much time I had left to complete my goal and I realized this more and more as it came closer to 6 hours. Riding on two under inflated tires, exhausted, I had to focus. Kept repeating the mantra, “shut up legs” over and over under my breath.

Mile 97 just three more to go.

Shooting pains were slicing into the sides of my legs and I don’t want to begin to describe what sitting on a rock hard seat will do to your butt after hours of hard pedaling. Mile 98, the tenths of a mile seemed to be taking forever to change on the garmin display now. 6 hours was my goal and I wasn’t going to hold myself back from achieving it! I was done setting limitations on myself, I was going to complete this strong and carry that attitude with me off the bike. Mile 99, just one more to go and under 5 minutes to get there! I finally started seeing other cyclists as I passed the West Orange trail. I refused to stop. I didn’t need them anymore. I traveled this far, dealt with a hard second half and I wasn’t going to give up. My tires were losing air about the same pace as my legs were losing strength. Mile 95.5 I stopped listening to the pain and decided it was time to break my record. I rode into Winter Garden with sweat dripping off my lips. One destination on my mind, 100 miles. 5:58:48 was my time.20140701-081914-29954406.jpg
I slammed on my breaks took out my phone and proudly took a picture of what I had done. A mile back in the other direction was a bike shop and I needed to get some real air into my tires. One small issue with my finish line is that it was still 7 miles from where I live. My body had just informed me it was time to stop. I coasted and basked in the day for the last few miles. One hell of a trip.

What kind of bike should I buy? (Or put the fun between your legs!)

A little help figuring out which bike to get.

history-highwheelerWhether you’re looking to get into shape or would just like to get outside and have fun a bike appreciable for anyone. I’m always getting asked by people which bike they should buy. That’s a hard one to answer not knowing the intended purpose of the purchase for each person. Hopefully some of this will help to clear up some confusion and put you out on the roads!

Road bikes.

Its a snake!

Its a snake!

This type of bike is suitable for roads and paved trails. They typically are built with aerodynamics in mind and have thinner tires to decrease road resistance. The handlebars on most road bikes are covered in a tape for shock absorption , even though fingers sometimes end up being tingly anyway. There curvature of the handlebars allow the rider to crouch down in order to be more aerodynamic, commonly referred to as the drops.

Road bikes are designed for high speed and long distances. Customarily they are used for racing, charity rides and group rides within your local community.  They are very lightweight approximately 20 lbs or less. The price range for these bikes range from a couple hundred dollars to thousands. The one I’m riding cost $1,600; the one I want to be riding is on sale for $4,995. The price of these bikes has a lot to do with the weight, design and building material used in the frame of the bike.

 

Mountain Bikes.

Mountain bikes are normally used for trails and going off road. They are a very versatile bicycle being used on and off a paved surface. With a rugged design mountain bikes can withstand the stress of uneven terrain and still be used in an urban environment. The handlebars are straight across allowing the rider to sit upright and maneuver the bike.  The tires are wider for better traction and therefore weigh more than road bike tires. Most modern mountain bikes will have front suspension forks, the two bars connecting the tire to the frame. The suspension forks takes the stress of the terrain off the body of the rider, providing for a smooth as I guess it can be ride.

I used to ride mountain bikes when I was a teenager, but for me its all about going faster and Florida doesn’t have too many hills. 😉 The prices are similar to road bicycles. The higher the price the greater the difference on the bike. That doesn’t mean that the right bike for you should be the most expensive one you can afford. I have seen some bikes that are extremely expensive but aren’t comfortable to ride. Make sure before you purchase one that it meshes well with your body and riding style.

 

Hybrid bikes.

These bikes are great for anyone looking to commute back and forth to work. They combine the sturdy design and comfort of a mountain bike with the aerodynamic design and thin tires of a road bike. Cargo racks and bags can be added to any type of bike, but are typically found on hybrid bikes to aide in carrying your stuff. I have one on my bike above the rear tire in place of wearing a back pack. Depending how far you’ll be riding this could truly make the difference in comfort. I like mine because it carries my bike lock, spare tire and tube, sandals and whatever else I need for the day.

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MAKE SURE THE BIKE FITS YOU!

One of the most important things to check out before buying the bike is the size. Getting a bike that is either too large or too small will affect your ride and has the potential of causing injury to your body. Most bike shops are trained in bike fitting and can assist in letting you know what your size is.

 

For any more questions leave them in the comments below. It does not matter which type of bike you choose, just get off your couch and put the fun between your legs!

Time to change gears.

In order to stay on track and make certain this ride is going to be a success I’ll be making a few changes.

Currently I have postponed this ride due to a lack of resources and capital to fund it. The trip itself is going to be completely funded by me. I’ve just crossed the 25% mark of what I’ll need. Bank account is slowly growing with each weeks paycheck and I’m not losing the motivation or passion concerning the ride.
Prior to this spring I was cranking out the miles, getting my body used to handling 40-50 miles a day. That has since dropped down to about 20-25 miles a day, usually split between two commuting trips. Instead of complaining about it and sitting on the couch with a blank stare on my face just waiting for my next nap or trip to work I will change it.
Reasons for the decline in mileage would be my work schedule, mainly 10:45pm to 7:00am each day, and going to college directly afterwards. One of the benefits of having little time to have a life is that I lack the ability to blow money on stuff I don’t need. So I guess the silver lining to this spring is that I was able to put away $2,500 towards the Ride For Veterans.
I feel as though I could do immensely better than this. I gave up having a car recently and now the money that would have been spent on gas, car payments, insurance or maintenance can now be used for this cause. An incredible side affect is the 13lbs I lost in 2014 already. I hadn’t notice the weight loss until a few people mentioned seeing a difference. To test how much I’ve changed I put on a pair of jeans I hadn’t worn since I was 23 years old. Felt awesome. :)
New changes taking affect in the coming weeks: I put in the schedule change to begin shifts at 6:45am to 3:00pm. Giving me the ability to conduct a quick 11 mile ride to work then knock out 30-40 miles after the end of the shift. I’m building a gym in my garage to strengthen my body in order to endure the added weight from cargo I will be pulling.
While I no longer enjoy my job, like 90% of everyone on the planet, I will put up with it for now. Unless you have a spot open and would like to rescue me! (E-mail me for a resume 😉 ) Hopefully this will be a small enough change to put my mind at ease for a while.
This change will allow me to ride during the day when normal cyclists do! As soon as I can I’m going to start looking for clubs, or special event rides to participate in. Sure riding by myself has been fun and given me plenty of time to meditate and sort some things out, but having someone to laugh at you when you fall is also important.

Anyway, going to be logging many more hours on the road and focusing on making sure I have everything I will need for the big ride!